OccupyGhana® followed the debate on the request or demand by the Office of President John Mahama, the immediate past president, with respect to the twin-bungalow government property at Number 3 Prestige Link, Cantonments, Accra as part of his end-of-service benefits, in addition to a third building at Bungalow 6, 3rd Avenue, Ridge, Accra to be used as an office.
We were concerned about claims from the office of the former President that there was a concluded agreement between itself and the then-incoming government. That would have been an illegal agreement since an incoming government would have had no power to bind the nation to any agreement. Thus, any purported ‘pre-inauguration agreement’ would have required the express ratification of the new government when finally inaugurated. We were therefore waiting to see whether the new government would ratify the alleged agreement or reject the request, as the case may be. We have also seen a copy of what purports to be a letter from President John Mahama, withdrawing the request, claim or demand.
We were also concerned that the continued occupation of Number 3 Prestige Link by President John Mahama flew directly in the face of section 10 of the Presidential (Transition) Act. We note that this Act was specifically enacted by Parliament and signed into law by President John Mahama, to among others, compel retiring Presidents and Vice-Presidents to vacate all official premises BEFORE power changes hands. It is instructive to note that while a 2016 amendment of the Act gave other government appointees up to three (3) months to vacate official premises both a President and Vice-President have no such ‘grace period.’
Given that some arrangements had apparently been approved by Parliament, we remained optimistic, based on the assurances by at least three government appointees to the effect that no such agreement existed between the outgoing and new governments with respect to this specific house, that the supreme interest of the people of Ghana was going to be safeguarded in all of this. Thus we expected that when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-
Addo announced an official decision on the matter, that decision would confirm the said assurances and be in line with the highest principles of the Ghanaian taxpayer’s best interest.
As things turned out, the President did not have to convey a formal decision. The former President has withdrawn the request.
But that should not be the end of the matter. Above and beyond the issue relating to that specific demand, we are disturbed by the perennial nature of the issue of Article 71 emoluments and benefits. The usual angst and concern expressed by the good people of Ghana every time the issue comes up is indicative of a certain deficiency or deliberate error in the interpretation and application of the Constitutional arrangement by successive Parliaments and Presidents. These need to be addressed comprehensively and conclusively. In agreeing to the Article 71 arrangements, the people of Ghana assumed that reasonable Parliaments and Presidents would act primarily in the best interest of the citizenry as fiduciaries. It is sad that this fiduciary duty is ignored or breached at every transition in a manner that is at best out of touch with the aspirations of the people or, at its worst, in contemptuous disregard of the people.
We therefore urge the new President to holistically examine the relevant provisions and propose to the people of Ghana a solution that best allays the usual anxieties and also, does the needful by outgoing servants of our dear Republic.
Yours, for God and Country,